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Parish's brittlescale, Parish's saltbush, Parrish's brittlescale

Habit Herbs, annual. Herbs, erect or spreading to prostrate, 0.5–3 dm; branches almost horizontal to ascending, fragile, white scurfy or villous (in var. parishii).
Stems

erect, ascending, or procumbent, much branched, obtusely angled, 1–6 dm, stout, scurfy when young.

Leaves

alternate or proximalmost opposite or subopposite;

petiole to 1.5 cm or sessile;

blade paler abaxially, oblong or oval, lanceolate, or elliptic to broadly obovate or narrowly oblong, 10–40(–60) × (2–)4–20 mm, base rounded to cuneate, margin entire or undulate, rarely with 1–2 teeth, apex rounded to acute, mucronate, thin, often densely white scurfy beneath, grayish green and glabrate above.

numerous, all or nearly all opposite or almost all alternate, distal ones imbricate or widely separated, tending to recurve;

blade lanceolate to ovate, (2–)4–10 × 3–8 mm, rigid, base mostly rounded to cordate, margin entire, gray to white, densely scurfy (or hairy).

Staminate flowers

mostly in distal axils pistillate in proximal axils, or mostly in terminal spike (var. persistens), or partly so (var. subtilis).

Pistillate flowers

fascicled in axils.

Seeds

reddish brown, 2 mm.

dark brown or almost black, 0.8–1.5 mm.

Staminate

glomerules terminal or in dense or interrupted, terminal or axillary, naked spikes or shortly branched panicles.

Fruiting

bracteoles subsessile or with stipes to 1 mm, cuneate-orbiculate, compressed, 4.5–7 × 3.5–5.6 mm, typically longer than wide, united to middle, apex rounded, 3–5-toothed, teeth subequal, sides irregularly tuberculate or with 2 lateral dentate crests, rarely not appendaged.

bracteoles sessile, ovate or rhombic, slightly compressed to thickened, 2–3.5(–4) mm and about as broad or sometimes broader, often subhastately lobed, united 1/2 of length, entire or with few teeth on each side, tuberculate on 1 or both faces.

2n

= 18.

Atriplex mucronata

Atriplex parishii

Phenology Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat Sandy seashores, salt marshes
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Distribution
from FNA
AL; FL; LA; MA; MD; MS; NC; NH; NJ; TX; VA
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
CA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
Discussion

Problems with prior applications of the name Atriplex mucronata lie in the mistaken determination of the place of publication as Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2: 176. 1818 (where the name is only mentioned), instead of 2: 119. 1817 (where accompanied by a description and notes). H. M. Hall and F. E. Clements (1923) evidently relied on P. C. Standley’s (1916) interpretation, which indicated the wrong citation (see also A. dioica Rafinesque as an identical example). Hall and Clements applied the name mucronata to their interpretation of A. patula subsp. hastata or to A. hastata (i.e., to A. prostrata according to this treatment).

The treatment of Obione by C. H. B. A. Moquin-Tandon (1849) included “A. mucronata Rafin.!” as a synonym of O. arenaria. Possibly a sheet in the Prodromus herbarium at Geneva was the basis for that decision. It has two mounted specimens, one labeled A. arenaria Nuttall, collected by Nuttall in “N. Jersey, 1826,” and a second labeled “Atriplex mucronata Rafinesque (A. arenaria Nuttall, N. Jersey) Maritime NY, Rafinesque 1819.” From that information (although the year is 1819, not 1817), and from the description of the taxon, it seems clear that A. arenaria Nuttall is a later synonym of A. mucronata Rafinesque by at least half a year.

H. A. Gleason and A. Cronquist (1991) indicated that this taxon, by whatever name, is “perhaps better treated as a variety of the more tropical Atriplex pentandra (Jacquin) Standley, but the proper nomenclatural combination not yet made.” The present writer agrees with that conclusion, but such subjugation might indicate further contraction into the species of additional closely related taxa, e.g., A. wrightii, which is clearly closely allied as well.

Plants from the coastal states from New England south to New Jersey are much alike and seldom, if ever, display prominent, terminal, naked spikes or panicles with beadlike glomerules of staminate flowers. Plants from Florida westward sometimes have such staminate spikes or panicles.

Specimens from Florida and some from Texas can be distinguished from Atriplex pentandra only with difficulty, especially those individuals with entire leaves. However, the fruiting bracteole length-width ratio and overall shape, with some allowance for overlap, can serve to distinguish most specimens; those of A. mucronata are proportionately longer than broad and, on average, larger.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Varieties 5 (5 in the flora).

The Atriplex parishii complex consists of a series of microphyllous, low clump-forming annuals apparently disjunct from each other in the Central Valley of California and in near coastal southern California. Often they occupy vernal pools that dry as the season progresses; the substrates in all cases evidently are saline or alkaline, or both. For the most part, the bracteate distal leaves are cordate to rounded at the base, and spreading to spreading-ascending, and the fruiting bracteoles are mainly less than 3.5 mm in length.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Key
1. Fruiting bracteoles persistent, ± thickened and/or tuberculate on 1 or both faces
→ 2
1. Fruiting bracteoles deciduous, compressed, faces smooth or tuberculate
→ 3
2. Stems, even in inflorescences, mainly over 1.5 mm thick; staminate flowers borne mainly in terminal spikes; fruiting bracteoles 2.5-3.5(-4) mm; Colusa, Glenn, Merced, Solano, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties.
var. persistens
2. Stems all or at least above, filiform, less than 1.5 mm thick; staminate flowers borne mainly in axillary glomerules, only sometimes somewhat spicate; fruiting bracteoles 2.4-2.8 mm; Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, and Tulare counties
var. subtilis
3. Plants with elongate slender hairs in inflorescences; foliose bracts of inflorescence spreading, tips ± recurved; plants of Los Angeles (or Orange), Riverside, and San Diego counties
var. parishii
3. Plants merely scurfy in inflorescences; foliose bracts of inflorescence spreading-ascending, tips not or not especially recurved
→ 4
4. Leaves all or mainly opposite, 3-7 mm; fruiting bracteoles with appendages not in rows, on abaxial surface only; Glenn, Solano, and Yolo counties
var. depressa
4. Leaves all or mainly alternate, 4-10 mm; fruiting bracteoles with faces smooth; Tulare and Kern counties
var. minuscula
Source FNA vol. 4, p. 362. FNA vol. 4, p. 356.
Parent taxa Chenopodiaceae > Atriplex > subg. Obione > sect. Obione > subsect. Arenariae Chenopodiaceae > Atriplex > subg. Obione > sect. Obione > subsect. Pusillae
Sibling taxa
A. acanthocarpa, A. amnicola, A. argentea, A. californica, A. canescens, A. confertifolia, A. cordulata, A. coronata, A. corrugata, A. coulteri, A. covillei, A. dioica, A. elegans, A. fruticulosa, A. gardneri, A. garrettii, A. glabriuscula, A. gmelinii, A. graciliflora, A. heterosperma, A. holocarpa, A. hortensis, A. hymenelytra, A. joaquiniana, A. klebergorum, A. laciniata, A. lentiformis, A. leucophylla, A. lindleyi, A. linearis, A. littoralis, A. matamorensis, A. nudicaulis, A. nummularia, A. oblongifolia, A. obovata, A. pacifica, A. parishii, A. parryi, A. patula, A. pentandra, A. phyllostegia, A. pleiantha, A. polycarpa, A. powellii, A. prostrata, A. pusilla, A. rosea, A. saccaria, A. semibaccata, A. serenana, A. spinifera, A. suberecta, A. suckleyi, A. tatarica, A. torreyi, A. truncata, A. tularensis, A. watsonii, A. wolfii, A. wrightii
A. acanthocarpa, A. amnicola, A. argentea, A. californica, A. canescens, A. confertifolia, A. cordulata, A. coronata, A. corrugata, A. coulteri, A. covillei, A. dioica, A. elegans, A. fruticulosa, A. gardneri, A. garrettii, A. glabriuscula, A. gmelinii, A. graciliflora, A. heterosperma, A. holocarpa, A. hortensis, A. hymenelytra, A. joaquiniana, A. klebergorum, A. laciniata, A. lentiformis, A. leucophylla, A. lindleyi, A. linearis, A. littoralis, A. matamorensis, A. mucronata, A. nudicaulis, A. nummularia, A. oblongifolia, A. obovata, A. pacifica, A. parryi, A. patula, A. pentandra, A. phyllostegia, A. pleiantha, A. polycarpa, A. powellii, A. prostrata, A. pusilla, A. rosea, A. saccaria, A. semibaccata, A. serenana, A. spinifera, A. suberecta, A. suckleyi, A. tatarica, A. torreyi, A. truncata, A. tularensis, A. watsonii, A. wolfii, A. wrightii
Subordinate taxa
A. parishii var. depressa, A. parishii var. minuscula, A. parishii var. parishii, A. parishii var. persistens, A. parishii var. subtilis
Synonyms A. arenaria, A. cristata var. arenaria, A. pentandra subsp. arenaria Obione parishii
Name authority Rafinesque: Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2(2): 119. (1817) S. Watson: Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 17: 377. (1882)
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